Advice for the Aspiring Missional Entrepreneur
Avoid Analysis Paralysis
Pete: For one, I feel like there can be a lot of “analysis paralysis” among people who are considering missional enterprise or business-as-mission. I’ve known some people who were considering it for five or six years. Maybe that’s what is needed in some cases. But, I would encourage people, if you are really thinking about it, to jump in and give it a shot. Of course, don’t jump into it without counting the cost. But, consider that, if it takes that long to think through it, it could be an indication that it’s not something you should be doing.
Be Willing to Pivot
Also, as you develop your ideas, be flexible. Many businesses are very different today from what they were when the entrepreneurs first started them. As they were getting started, they noticed something that they hadn’t seen at first and realized that the original idea wasn’t going to work. However, they were able to pivot into something that ended up working quite well. In our situation, we are a larger company than we imagined in our first business plan. Although the main idea of the business is the same, we are focusing on some significantly different objectives and different products that we provide to our customers. We pivoted a number of times when we saw better what people actually wanted.
Understand Different Roles
Another thing that we always recommend to people we meet who are thinking about missional enterprise is to try to determine whether you are more of an entrepreneur (a business starter) or more of a manager (a business builder). Now, not everyone may fall neatly into those two roles, but most people would probably, based on their skills and strengths, lean towards one of those two areas. I would just encourage people to take some inventories, talk to other people familiar with business start-ups, or participate in training like the workshops from The Navigators. It’s important to get a sense of whether you have a business-starting and entrepreneurial mindset. If so, maybe you should start something. If not, maybe you should join something that’s already happening or you should join someone else who is a starter.
Have a Team
Related to that last point, perhaps the last thing I would say is to encourage people if at all possible, to do this with someone. We have seen a lot of phenomenally gifted people really struggle trying to start a missional enterprise alone, especially if they are going overseas. It’s just so challenging. So, consider doing it with someone – either joining someone who’s already doing it, or finding a friend or somebody you know who can go with you.
Building a Team
M3 Weekly: From your experience, what advice do you have about how to build a good team to lead a missional enterprise?
Pete: As a generalization, we have always had a distinction between our core “Kingdom” team and a larger leadership team that would include some non-believers in leadership. In that latter group, there would be certain positions we would fill only with someone who is a believer – the HR role is a key role in addition to a few others.
We’ve really worked hard to bring nationals in, and to bring believing nationals into our core team, even from the beginning, and that’s been really encouraging. We also have some Americans, both from the original team, as well as others God has brought at really opportune times through the years. God has brought the right people especially when they were needed. In this last year especially, we’ve gotten a couple of key national hires that have been really great and we’re depending less and less on foreigners within our business.
It’s not always perfect, and there are always challenges. Whenever you have more than one person together, there are going to be challenges!
Verse of the Week:
Where there is no guidance the people fall, But in an abundance of counselors there is victory. Proverbs 11:14 (NASB)
Let’s thank God for the counsel we can receive from missional entrepreneurs who have gone before us in the journey, and pray for grace to follow counsel well.
1 Not his real name.